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Intelligent Automation: What Will the Next 6 Months Hold?

In Episode 13 of our Automation Alliance Podcast Series, we chatted to John Pickering, Senior Partner: AI, Robotics & Cognitive Automation at Deloitte Australia, about how the intelligent automation landscape is evolving.

During the conversation, we discussed five key trends going forward:

1. The pandemic’s impact on offshore models

During 2020, the virus outbreak disrupted the availability and productivity of the human workforce, especially in locations where employees lack the infrastructure to work from home efficiently.
During the early weeks of the crisis, due to stay-at-home orders, some offshore teams had limited access to laptops and other resources they needed to do their jobs. Others faced privacy and data security issues that put the brakes on productivity. As a result, many Australian enterprises with an offshore presence had to scramble to ensure business continuity.
As companies sought new ways of getting work done, many recognised the valuable role that automation technologies can play in increasing operational resilience. Robotic process automation (RPA), for example, can be deployed quickly to automate key process components – taking the pressure off human workers and ensuring continuity during times of disruption.

2. A process centric approach to automation

In the months ahead, John believes more organisations will focus on “process excellence as a first step towards automation excellence”.
A lot of large companies had a Process Centre of Excellence, but they haven’t always been successful. And I think a lot of the reason for that has been that the people or the groups running those CoEs may not have been close enough to the processes themselves and had limited understanding of what’s actually happening at the coal face. If you look at automation from a process or even a task point of view, you focus on understanding and fixing the process itself – because there’s no value in automating a broken process,”
John Pickering

3. A shift towards attended automation

In Australia and the APAC region, companies have typically opted for the unattended automation approach when introducing RPA. Now, there’s a growing interest in attended automation – where humans and software robots work together to transform the world of work.
While 80% of the projects rapidMATION works on in the robotic process automation space are unattended, our organisation has definitely noticed a shift towards attended automation
Shaun Leisegang
We are pivoting towards attended automation, and I think this concept will become much more relevant going forward
John Pickering

4. Making automation more intelligent

Scaling beyond ‘ad hoc automation’ and building intelligent automation frameworks that provide end-to-end capabilities is another trend that John and Sean are witnessing.
More companies are pulling predictive analytics, machine learning and cognitive capabilities into their automation frameworks, with the goal of transforming the processes that impact customers the most.
What we are already seeing, and can expect to see more of, is the extension beyond task- and rules-based automation towards process automation solutions that draw on historical and real-time intelligent data. This focus will be what really defines the successful automation users of the future
John Pickering

5. Building an enterprise-wide understanding of automation

In the months ahead, John advises companies to clearly define automation outcomes and goals; and ensure everyone – especially senior people – understand what automation really means for the organisation.
If everyone can align on what automation means, what you’re going to get out of it and how you’re going to do it, rather than just using automation as a generic term, then that will really help to improve the uptake and ensure benefits for everyone going forward
John Pickering

For the full conversation, listen to our podcast here

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